Will your Beagle be OK living outdoors?
Beagles are friendly, playful, active dogs. No one who owns a Beagle has to wonder whether their pet would be happier spending more time outside, at least in good weather in a safe setting.
There is no question that Beagles were bred for the outdoors. But if a little time outdoors is good, is your Beagles spending all their time outdoors even better?
Beagle owners wonder if their dogs should have the run of the yard. Or if it is safe and healthy for a Beagle to actually live outside?
There are many myths about a Beagle’s ability to live outdoors.
To make the right decision about where your Beagle can and should live, first, you need to know which elements of outdoor living your Beagle can endure and stay happy and healthy.
Beagles Were Bred to Live Outdoors
Beagles have been around since the time of English Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). They were bred for beagling, an old term for hunting rabbits.
They were fast enough to catch rabbits, and they had strong tongues they could use to hold a rabbit without biting it.
They could jump and swim and conquer common obstacles on the ground where rabbits roamed.
Modern Beagles were refined by breeding with Talbot Hound, the North Country Beagle, and the Southern Hound in England in the 1830s.
Because rabbits fed both Beagles and the humans who owned them, most Beagle owners didn’t have just one Beagle.
It was unusual to have fewer than 5 Beagles. It was common to keep 8 to 14 Beagles, and it wasn’t unusual to own as many as 25.
In modern times, keeping 25 Beagles would be considered animal hoarding.
It would invite inquiries by Animal Control and mental health workers.
But in the 1800s, it was perfectly normal to build a shelter with a roof and a windbreak and to layout straw so your Beagles could sleep comfortably at night.
The dogs piled together to keep each other warm during winter weather.
Beagles of the old days spent most or all of their time outdoors.
But they lived in packs that could keep each other warm and safe. Modern Beagles kept as affectionate pets are in a very different situation.
Modern Day Beagle Stays Safe as a Member of Human Pack
Beagles had to be affectionate and cooperative to live together in packs.
Those qualities make them highly desirable pets today.
But a modern Beagle’s pack is its human family, not four or ten or 25 other dogs. For modern Beagles, people are the rest of its pack.
Beagles depend on their human family for companionship. They soak up love from their people the same way their ancestors found a family in their pack.
They feel secure inside homes that, from the Beagle’s perspective, serve as their den.
Beagles that don’t have companionship tend to act out their frustration. They bark. They howl. They chew on things.
This happens whether a Beagle is left alone indoors or outdoors, but the possibility of injury is greater when Beagles are left alone outdoors.
Disaster Strikes When Outdoor Beagles Get Bored
Bored Beagles tend to run away.
They can escape the yard without any human supervision and it can put the Beagle at extreme risk for auto accidents, unfortunate encounters with larger dogs and wild animals, and various kinds of diseases.
The health statistics for Beagles that run away are concerning:
- Over 1.2 million dogs are hit by cars every year in the United States alone. Puppies and dogs under the age of two are the most likely to be killed.
- Beagles that escape their yards pick up diseases from squirrels, skunks, possums, raccoons, wild birds, other runaway dogs, and feral cats.
- One in eight Beagles that lives long enough after a car crash to be taken to the vet will die of its injuries.
- Beagles that stray can pick up antibiotic-resistant infections.
But even if you can keep your Beagle inside your yard, other dangers await.
The Full List of Hazards for Outdoor Beagles
Even if you can make sure that an outdoor Beagle stays safe in your backyard, the weather is a major hazard for your dog’s health.
Beagles don’t have the ability to withstand extreme cold that you would find in other breeds, like Siberian Huskies.
A Beagle will be comfortable at temperatures between about 50° and 80° F (10° and 26° C), although older Beagles, Beagles with chronic health conditions, and Beagles suffering malnutrition or dehydration may have difficulties even at 50° or 80° F.
Cold Weather Hazards for Beagles
Cold weather can induce hypothermia (abnormally low core temperature) even when the air temperature is above freezing. Below-freezing temperatures can cause frostbite.
A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101° and 102.5° F (38.3° and 39.2° C). Any core temperature below 100° F (37.8° C) is considered hypothermia.
The first signs of hypothermia in Beagles are paleness in the skin and shivering.
If your Beagle isn’t brought to a warm place and the chilling continues, there will be listlessness, lethargy, and eventually coma and death.
Even Beagles that are revived from severe hypothermia can develop permanent heart damage.
Hypothermia sets in faster when dogs are wet from exposure to rain or snow.
It’s safe for your Beagle to stay outside in temperatures of 32° F (0° C) for 45 minutes to an hour to go for a walk or to play at the dog park.
But that’s only true if your dog’s skin and fur aren’t damp.
Serious problems can begin in as little as two hours when temperatures are at the freezing mark, and faster than that at lower temperatures.
Dogs that have recently had anesthesia may be unusually sensitive to cold.
Frostbite causes serious tissue damage in two ways. Cold can freeze and kill healthy tissues, especially in the ears, nose, tail, toes, and genitals.
But because freezing also affects the blood, frostbite can generate blood clots that break off and circulate to the rest of your dog’s body.
Dogs can get frostbite anytime the air temperature is below freezing, not just during extreme cold.
Putting your dog in a sweater and booties will reduce the risk of frostbite, but any part of the dog’s body that isn’t covered will still be susceptible.
Hot Weather Hazards for Beagles
Beagles can also suffer heatstroke.
Anytime a Beagle’s body temperature exceeds 103° F (39.4° C), it is considered hyperthermia.
Body temperatures above 106° F (41° C) are associated with heatstroke, and a body temperature of 107 to 109 °F (41.2 to 42.7° C) signals imminent death.
Dogs suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke will breathe rapidly. Panting is a dog’s way of cooling off.
Hyperthermic dogs may display abnormal gum color, sticky or dry gums, or broken blood vessels in the gums.
As the condition progresses, they may become lethargic and develop seizures.
It’s never a good idea to treat heat-stroke with ice. Get your Beagle to a cool place and call the vet for further instructions.
But it’s better never to let your Beagle become overheated in the first place.
Outdoor Poisoning Hazards for Beagles
A Beagle left alone outdoors will explore your yard by smelling and tasting.
Common chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, lawnmower fuel, and antifreeze present tempting and potentially deadly taste treats.
Your Beagle may mouth or eat poisonous landscape plants. Common plant hazards for dogs include:
- Sago palm: These common landscape plants are both delicious and poisonous for dogs.
- Tomato vines: These plants contain a toxin called solanine, which will give your dog stomach upset, drowsiness, dilated pupils, and slow heart rate.
- Potato leaves and stems (and green potato peels): Any green part of a potato also contains solanine. Pregnant Beagles will usually suffer spontaneous abortion if they eat green parts of potato.
- Aloe: Aloe juice is safe for humans, but soap-like saponins in the sap of the aloe plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and confusion in dogs.
- Ivy: Eating ivy vines can cause diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, and fatigue.
- Amaryllis, azalea, rhododendron, castor bean, tulip, chrysanthemum, oleander, gladiola, daffodil, and milkweed. These beautiful plants can be deadly to dogs.
Wild Animal Attacks on Beagles
Coyotes live in every state in the United States except Hawaii.
California and the desert Southwest have cougars, and mountain lions still exist in the Rocky Mountain states and part of Texas.
An encounter with any of these large predators can end in serious injury or death for your Beagle.
Smaller animals, however, can also do harm to Beagles.
Possums, raccoons, grackles, and raptors (owls, hawks, and eagles) can and do attack dogs.
In rare instances, a Beagle puppy can be carried away by one of these smaller wild hunting animals.
Diseases That Beagles Can Catch from Wild Animals
Beagles that live outdoors are at risk to a long list of infections they catch from wild animals. Here are just a few of them:
- Rats and mice can transmit leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, tularemia, rat bite fever, roundworms, and plague. Sometimes dogs get these diseases when rats and mice urinate or defecate in their water bowls or feeding dishes. Your Beagle can also contract these infections by catching and eating a rat or mouse.
- Skunks, raccoons, and possums can give your Beagle distemper, tapeworms, fleas, ticks, plague, Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a relatively uncommon condition called haemobartonellosis.
- Your Beagle can pick up Salmonella by eating wild birds or backyard chickens. Dogs can also get food poisoning by eating wild fish.
Better Choices than Letting Your Beagle Live Outdoors
You may be tempted to keep your beagles outside as they may sometimes prove to be quite a trouble inside the house.
Before you banish your Beagle to your backyard, here are some interventions you can try.
- Schedule daily walks. Wear down your Beagle’s excess energy by going for walks two or three times a day for 20 to 30 minutes each time. You should walk at a pace that is challenging for your Beagle (which may be very challenging for you).
- Expand your Beagle’s world. Don’t go to the same place for your walk every day. Vary your path so your Beagle can take in new sights, sounds, and smells.
- Provide outside play. Never underestimate the power of a game of fetch. Your enthusiasm for playing fetch will be noticed by your dog. And the kind of toy you use for fetch makes a difference, too. Playing fetch with a Kong Wubba toy exposes your Dog to different sizes, different colors (OK, different shades of black and white, but your Beagle will notice), and sound effects.
- Play scenting games. Beagles were bred to track down scents. They love toys that have strong scents. Bacon grease is a great scent to add to a toy you use for fetch. Dab bacon grease on the toy with a paper towel. (Don’t pour bacon grease over the toy.) If you are outside, keep your Beagle on a leash for the scenting game. Your Beagle will want to move to the scented toy very quickly.
- If the problem is barking, eliminate triggers. Keep the blinds closed so your Beagle won’t see wildlife in your yard. Or provide alternative stimulation. When your Beagle barks, clap your hands. Or use a toy that makes a hissing sound or a whistle to redirect your Beagle’s attention.
- If the problem is chewing, move anything that can be damaged by chewing out your Beagle’s part of the house. Make sure your Beagle has several interesting chew toys.
Beagles love the outside world, but they should never be left outdoors without supervision.
Train your Beagle for indoor living, and save excursions outdoors for fun.
Other articles you may also like: